• Complacency Cited in Rising Number of Traffic Fatalities
  • February 14, 2018
  • The 2016 figures are in, and the National Safety Council notes that traffic fatalities have increased from the previous year.

    The NSC also released the results of a study indicating that complacency has become a notable aspect of American driving behaviors.

    The new statistics

    According to the National Safety Council, vehicle crash fatalities increased 6 percent over 2015 and 14 percent over 2014. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration findings are similar: an 8 percent rise in traffic fatalities from 2015 to 2016, looking at just January through September of each year. The NSC reports that the number of traffic deaths in our country in 2016 came to 40,200.

    Accident causes

    The NSC points out that lower prices at the gas pump and a healthier economy were inducements for people to drive more in 2016. Their report on driving behaviors revealed surprising information from the drivers surveyed:

    • 47 percent felt comfortable texting while behind the wheel

    • 25 percent felt comfortable speeding on residential streets

    • 10 percent admitted to driving drunk

    • 43 percent of the drunk drivers had been involved in a car crash

    • 16 percent of drivers did not always wear seat belts

    The complacency factor

    The NSC reminds us how dangerous complacency can be. Young people, especially, are firmly connected to their cellphones and continue to use them while driving, even though the drivers understand the risk involved. An accident, possibly accompanied by life-changing injuries or death, can happen in seconds, just in the time it takes for a driver to shift attention from the road ahead to a cellphone screen.

    A call for change

    The National Safety Council has again called for banning the use of cellphones, including hands-free systems, while driving. The group also wants to see mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices for drivers with DUI convictions, and stricter requirements for obtaining a driver’s license for those under 21. While the NSC may not get everything it wants in the near future, the rise in both traffic fatalities and catastrophic car-crash injuries is sufficient to start a serious discussion on ways to reduce the numbers.